The return to school for Bedford students has started “differently” this term

319

Bedford Borough Council’s chief officer for education, SEND and schools, has said that he expects all school children in the Borough to now be back in school.

Speaking to the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee yesterday (6 September) he added that Department for Education (DfE) guidance has meant school has started differently this term.

Previous measures, such as mandatory masks and bubble systems, are no longer in place.

Mr Pearson said: “There also isn’t a requirement for councils to still manage a Track and Trace process locally.

“We know is that this made a huge difference over the last 18 months or so because we’ve got the local intelligence.

“If a child in School A tests positive, we can look at who’s on that bus, and where their siblings go to school.

“We can use that local intelligence to try to prevent any further outbreaks. We are going to continue to do this because we feel that’s the right thing to do.

“Only when there have been a specific number of cases in a class or a school, and after a consultation with Public Health can we look at putting back into place mandatory masks, or bubbles or any other mandatory operations in place.”

Mr Pearson said that schools are following the request to refer positive cases back to the council and 13 positive cases had been reported that day (6 September) but, “None of these could have been caught at schools today.

“I don’t think we will have a clear picture of the number and prevalence across schools for probably a couple of weeks.”

Mr Pearson said he was pleased that pushback from councils had led to the DfE to change its guidance on not wearing face coverings on school buses, and the Borough is asking young people to wear them.

The council acknowledges that a number of children and families are very concerned about the return to school.

This could be the usual return to school anxiety which “has probably been amplified” over the last 18 months, or these families could have very vulnerable people at home. Mr Pearson said:

“We certainly will not be taking a punitive approach if children are not back in school straight away. We are not going to start fining.

“Our approach is support, support, support, and to understand why, and what, are the factors preventing children from coming back.”

“We will continue to work with schools, with parents, and with families.”

by John Guinn Local Democracy Reporter
and Bedford Independent’s Paul Hutchinson

Now more than ever, we need your help to fund the Bedford Independent’s quality journalism that serves our community...

We choose to champion editorial independence, meaning we report the facts without bias and can stand up to those in power when we believe it’s needed.

We can give a voice to people in our community whose voices may otherwise not be heard. And we don’t have a paywall, so everyone can read the stories we publish for free.

But in this time of crisis, many news organisations all over the world are facing existential threat, with advertising revenues plummeting. We’re no different.

We work hard every day to bring you news, commentary, entertainment and announcements from across Bedford. We hope that, with your help, we’ll be able to continue this for many years to come.

Will you help sustain our work today by clicking below ? Even a small donation makes a difference for our future.

Thank you for your support.